tv The Redemption Project CNN June 16, 2019 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
of color meeting, and hopefully gives you white people out there a sense of what we're going through and what people of color talk about regularly. and even though this show's coming to an end, this week we all have a homework assignment. go and take the implicit bias test because whether you think you're biased or not, racism is part of your life with or without knowing it. but if we measure it, hopefully we can dismantle it. and white folks, if you don't think about your own bias then there is a chance you're going to end up in one of those videos harassing people who don't deserve it, or even worse, getting someone killed. because we ain't all jared steven leony. ♪ my father saved that lady's life. he was a hero. >> our father wasn't killed by the firearm. he was killed by the person behind the gun. >> i think they see me as a
monster. i don't know how they're going to feel when they see me for the first time. >> he has no way of knowing the anguish that i've felt for ten years. >> because i've been wanting to say something for a long time, and this is something that needs to be done. >> i will know if he's -- if he's really remorseful or not. if he's not then we got problems. i've spent half my life working with the criminal justice system. and i've seen lives devastated by violence. we like to imagine that after the verdict the story is over, the victim and the offender are never meant to meet again. but for some the only way to move forward is to come face to face with the person who shattered their lives.
♪ so i'm on my way to indianapolis, indiana. they used to call it the cross roads of america because they got so many interstates zipping through here. people are always coming, they're always going to a place like this. indianapolis attracts a lot of people from around the world, including a guy named mario gonzalez tello, a peruvian immigrant who came here to pursue the american dream and doing really well and then he lost his life. in 2008, mario was fatally shot trying to help someone in need. he was trying to interrupt a robbery in progress. i'm on my way to meet with two of the sons of mr. gonzalez. they actually want to meet the guy who killed their father. and i want to talk with them about that. i really want to know why they decided to take that kind of a
step at this point ten years later. >> hey. >> hey, how's it going? >> nice to meet you. >> hey. appreciate you guys making time for me. >> all right. >> so you guys are brothers? >> yeah. >> who is the younger one? >> he's the youngest. >> you're the baby? >> i'm the youngest. >> youngest of four. >> youngest of four? >> he's the oldest of four. >> wow, okay. >> we were taught to be strong willed good people, help your neighbor, always open doors type of people. >> growing up as an immigrant's son, i think i had the only spanish name in martinsville, indiana. kind of a little hillbilly town, you know? my mom was hillbilly, my dad was peruvian, so -- >> my mother and my father divorced when i was very young. we were lucky in that sense that even though we were from a broken family i was still able to have a good relationship with my father and my mother was a tremendous, tremendous person.
>> what kind of a man was your father? >> he came from peru in the early '60s. >> my father came to america with $7 in his pocket. >> and he didn't even speak english. he got an education here. ended up speaking seven different languages. >> he was still working when he passed away. he was 72 years old. i asked him, i said, why don't you go ahead and retire, enjoy life a little bit? he goes, if i do that, i'm going to rust. i don't want to do that. >> if i rust, i rust. >> that's what he said. >> that's the only thing that's keeping me young and beautiful. >> those are his words. >> he was passionate about singing and he loved opera and every now and then i'll roll out of bed and i'm like, oh, that little tune is in my head, that tune that dad would sing to us. ended up getting a degree in math and a degree in opera. >> i asked him one time, i said, where did you get all this
information? he says, i'm going to tell you a secret. i go, okay. they keep it concealed in books. >> he was a character. >> how did you even find out that you lost him? >> i'll never forget that monday. i was at my house. i had my son carter with me. >> it was very early in the morning and somebody's knocking on the door and i look out the window. i'm like, what's a police officer doing here? he just said, look, your dad was shot. and he's no longer with us. >> is it harder to hear that your father was murdered or is it harder to explain to your 8-year-old son? i had to do both of those things that day. >> what happened the night that your father was murdered? >> this particular night he went to one of his friend's
restaurants, a mediterranean restaurant. >> he was eating. they were closing. they went to close the doors. he went out to his vehicle. >> then he saw that this kid was robbing this lady. and dad being who dad was, got out of his car. >> my dad had a snub nosed handgun. >> the assailant turned and shot dad. he was shot in an artery near his liver. >> which is a death shot. >> i go back to that same spot every year. at that same little parking spot where dad had parked. >> it took a lot of -- a lot of
pictures, didn't he? there's dad's revolver. yeah, this definitely re-opens a lot of wounds. >> my sisters had this box for ten years, and she's had it almost like kind of like a little shrine to dad. >> hey, ellie. >> hey, aldo. sorry i missed your call. >> we got done looking through the box. >> how did it go? >> it's hard looking at that stuff. >> i know it. it's hard because i want to hang on to those. >> right. >> but i don't want to actually open them. i just want to keep them the way they are. you open up whatever you want. i just personally couldn't do it. >> the police chief said that night that my father was a hero because he saved that lady's life. he was a hero. he's a hero to me. ♪ >> you're going now to sit down
and talk with dominique, the guy who killed your father. what are you each individually hoping to understand in this situation? >> i want to see that he's remorseful. i want to see him changed. you know, we all have to answer for everything that we've done, and at the end of the day, we're going to one of two places, you know? >> there's things that dominique knows that we don't know. >> what was he thinking? what happened? you know, what did dad say? was he trying to initiate in a gang? there's questions that i have that i want dominique to answer that only he knows. >> last time you saw dominique was in court ten years ago. what's that experience, to be in a courtroom with the guy who killed your father? >> my whole goal of sitting on that stand was to look him in the eye and ask him, who do you think you are? i think he only looked up once at me. kind of caught my eye and kept looking down at his hands.
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i'm on my way to carlisle, indiana, into the wabash valley correctional center. going to be meeting with dominiq dominique statin. he's the guy that shot and killed mario gonzalez-tello. dominique was 16 years old when he took this man's life. he got an 80-year sentence, so he's essentially going to spend his entire adult life behind bars. the last time dominique saw mario and aldo was ten years ago when they were in court, so i really want to hear why he's willing to meet with them now and talk with them. ♪
>> young man. >> how are you doing? >> how are you doing, brother? >> how are you doing? >> it's good to see you. >> good to see you. >> so this is your gym? you do sports and stuff in here? >> yeah, volleyball, basketball. most of the time -- >> basketball. you are probably into named for basketball, dominique. >> yeah, my dad game me a name. one of his favorite players. >> what i want to understand is your upbringing. how did you grow up? >> i grow ew up on the west sidf town. the neighborhood was kind of rough. i seen a lot of crime going on, like robberies and drug selling, fights and all types of unnecessary stuff. >> when you were a little kid, were you that little feisty bad kid, that quiet nerdy kid? what kind of kid were you? >> i stayed in trouble. doing something -- like the kid
throwing rocks at cars and stuff like that, just mischief. i liked being outside. i was adventurous. just having fun. just being a kid. i love sports. i think that was my first thing i really loved doing. but when i got in high school, i became a letterman in some football, baseball, i played golf. i wanted scholarships. i wanted to go to college. education is very important in our family. they big on that. and my mom hold me to a higher standard. i had a good relationship with her. my dad was kind of tough on me 'cause he's like me, you maintain the grades, you can play sports. my grades was always good. i always maintained a "b" average. my family always see me in school doing normal stuff, going to classes, going to rotc, doing stuff and having fun, but when nobody around, i'm a whole another person. >> nobody figured theis. >> nobody.
>> nobody. >> what were you doing? >> i was just like stealing stuff out of the stores and everything. going to school, selling them. >> what was the money for? >> like jordans. i'm a shoe man. >> sneaker head. >> i was a sneaker head. i loved shoes so much. i got to keep up these shoes. >> why didn't you just ask your mom for the money? >> i seen my mom go through a struggling a lot of times. and it hurt me. i hate to see my mom cry. when she couldn't do what she wanted to do for her kids. my mom made a lot of sacrifices. how is she going to pay this bill? how is she going to make sure we eat? so i took it upon myself. buy groceries. i told my mom, i bought grocery. how did you get the money? i lied to her. i saved it. you know, i saved it. oh, you saved it? all right. i'm proud of you. i'm like, yeah. but at the same time i'm consistently lying to her about what i was doing. i didn't never tell nobody what i was doing.
robbery cases and stuff like that and on the news they get away and don't get caught. watching movies. but at the end of the day, this ain't movies. this is real life. probably when i was like 15, i broke into somebody's house and took some valuable stuff. once i tried it and didn't get caught, i just kept going with it. >> how did the gun get involved in your life? >> i bought a gun when i was 15. i felt like -- i feel protected. i never told my family about the gun. i always hid the gun in my room. i would carry it if i went into an environment that i knew was dangerous and i had to protect myself. >> so you got this gun. what happened that night? i mean, how did that situation go down, the situation that got you here? >> june 30th of 2008, i was sitting at home.
i'm just kind of seeing how much money i was short of getting this car i wanted. so i walked out of the house. it's dark outside. and i got this gun on me. i seen the lady coming out of the restaurant. so i run across the street, across 38th street. into a parking lot. i ran up on this woman. the only thing i asked her was for the money. and she was telling me no. i was like, listen, i'm not here to kill you or nothing like that, just give me the money. and she was like no. so i pulled my gun out on her. as soon as she turned around about to give me the money, i heard somebody say hey.
and i turned around, i see this man over from a distance point a gun at me. and my mind just went into a straight of shock. and i took my gun out and shot him. and once i shot him, he just -- he just dropped. i turned around and she was screaming and she gave me the money and i took off running. i just -- i hope he didn't die. that's the first thing in my mind, i hope he didn't die. and the following morning i seen it on the news. it was just like -- my heart just dropped. i don't know, it was like -- my mind wasn't there no more. a week or two later i committed a robbery and they pulled me over.
i still had that gun in the backpack that i committed a murder with. >> but they somehow figured it out? >> yeah, they put two and two together because of the gun. i guess they did an autopsy and found the ballistics through that gun, it matched the bullet the man was killed with. they said my fingerprints was on it still, so -- i pled guilty to a felony murder and robbery. >> so you turned around and there's a guy there and you did not have a gun, what would you have done? >> get down on the ground. my intention was not to kill nobody. >> do you think that dominique would have shot at your dad if your dad hadn't had the gun? >> this story is not about the gun, the story's about somebody who was willing to get out of his car to put their life in danger to save their friend. >> on the news they're saying he's a hero, he's a good samaritan. how does that land with you?
>> at that time i thought he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. he pulled a gun out. i didn't pull a gun on him. i was scared for my own life. when you see a gun pointed at you, your first reaction is to shoot back. that situation, it could possibly be me or him. you don't know who is going to shoot first. >> i know that if dad was not carrying a gun that night the outcome would have been the same. wow. we did it. we built the fastest network for the latest iphones. and the iphone xr, with a retina display that makes everything look incredible... it's like the perfect couple - you know, the ones who look great in every picture. like the ones who always make me feel like a before photo. zoey and chris. hey guys! hey... zoey and chris! ...how fun is that? at&t has the fastestnetwork for the latest iphones. get the mind blowing iphone xr on us when you buy the latest iphone. at&t. more for your thing. that's our thing.
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it's got to be redone, man. >> working with my brother, we do restoration and roofs, gutters, siding, home additions. >> i don't know how they're attached. >> let me bring my ladder over there. >> he and i have a really good relationship now. it's nothing like what it was growing up. >> so what are we doing? >> snacking. >> waiting for the food to cook. >> oh, okay. >> what you got there, baby? >> this macaroni salad you made was really good. >> we didn't do a lot together growing up. he and my dad, they went against the grain amongst each other quite a few times. it bothers my brother because there's a lot of things that he wishes that he could say to my father. >> in 2008, before the incident with dad, he had gone through a
triple bypass surgery. and i had been taking care of him, and it was rough. we fought a lot. it escalated to a point where i was just done, and so i drove him home and i never thought i'd speak another word to him again. that's how mad i was at my father, but there came a point, thank god it happened, we talked. i told dad, i'm sorry. he said, i already forgave you. so i learned forgiveness from my father. the right thing to do by way of my father is to forgive dominique. as hard as it is and as terrible of a thing that he's done, we're all monsters in our own way. >> well, we're not all going around robbing people, we're not all going around shooting people. >> true. >> but don't you think forgiveness needs to be earned? >> no.
no. how can he earn it? forgiveness isn't something you wake up one morning and you decide to forgive somebody for wronging you and it's done. forgiveness is waking up every morning and choosing to forgive again. >> look, my brother's different than i am. he looks at things different. we still disagree on a lot of things, but that's okay. i mean, that's what america's all about, right? we don't have to all get along. >> in a case like this case, do you sometimes wish there had been capital punishment? >> you know what? if he could really turn his life around and change another's way of thinking i'm glad he's alive. if he's not remorseful, i think probably capital punishment would have probably been the best thing. it's hard for me to forgive somebody if they don't care. >> what's the impact on your family, you being locked up? >> it impacted them a lot
because i had a bright future ahead of me. i got arrested, everybody was devastated. it hurt me a lot to see the agony in my mom's face, my sister's face, my brother's face, my auntie, my uncles, just friends, stuff like that. my dad, he was furious. he couldn't even speak to me. he taught me a lot to try to do it the honest way, a living as much as possible and how to survive in this world, and it hurt -- i know it hurt him a lot for what i did. i feel like i let them down. i feel like a failure and it hurt me. these ten years i've been incarcerated, my family has got me through. >> hello. >> i call my mom once a week every week, and i call to talk to my brother and sister. >> did you get my message? i sent you a message, too? >> i love when i get pictures from them, cards, letters. >> i like looking at my pictures and stuff sometimes because it reminds me of my family. >> my family did a lot for me.
they did the best they could. i knew right from wrong because that's how i was raised, but at that time i had an attitude. >> you were in court when aldo was talking. >> yeah. >> what's that like? >> aldo, he goes up and he speaks. i'm sitting there like nonchalant like, man, just get this over with, but when he spoke, he's like why? what made you want to kill my father? and he even said you a coward. >> as he was talking, he was crying, and i just -- he said he forgive me. i hope that you get your life together and walked off the stand. >> mario, he comes up. we're just staring at each other, me and him. when he finally says something, he said i hope you're going to be a better person. >> when i finally got here, i sat in the cell by myself. i sat there and thought about my life. i cried.
i balled up and cried. >> what did it mean to you when you found out that they wanted to actually sit down and have a conversation with you man to man? >> it's been ten years since everything that's happened. i went from being 16 to 26. i went through a lot of growth. i'm not the same person i was when i was 16 years old. i want to show them the man i became. >> how do you think they're going to be feeling? >> to be honest with you, from what i seen in the courtroom, aldo had a forgiving heart, but mario, his feelings are very mixed to me. >> how are you guys feeling right now? >> i'm feeling pretty anxious about it, honestly. >> what are you worried about or what are you anxious about? >> my anxiety is with how he's going to respond to what we say to him. >> mario, how do you feel about it? >> i think i -- the pressure's on him. i'm not nervous. it takes a lot to make me nervous. i'm pretty callused right now,
so i'll just take it as it goes. >> what do you want to see come out of this? >> if i told you i was ready to forgive, i'd be lying. i'm not going to go there and sing kumbaya and be hugging trees and stuff like that, that's not me. he's my father, you know? i can't force somebody to be something i want them to be. >> what about you, aldo, why is this so important to you? >> i think something good can happen from this terrible event. i can't do anything about the incident. what i can do is hope and pray that dominique can do something. >> yeah, hope and change only gets you so far. it's an evil world. >> what else are your questions you have for him? >> there's a lot of small details about the shooting itself that i wanted to know. what did dad say? did dad pass away quickly? >> personally, i don't want to know that. i don't want to know, oh, he was there gasping for breath and it
took him five minutes to die and he was looking up at -- i don't want to know any of that. >> i do. absolutely do. that's the last thing that dad did on earth. i want to know what it was. >> well, i know what the last thing my dad done on earth, he died helping somebody. >> well, they were asking me, not you. >> well, i understand that. and i'm kind of getting upset so i'm going to take a break for a second. ♪ >> what are you feeling right now? >> seems often times that people want what they want and they're not interested in allowing what other people may need. we've got one shot, one chance to have answers, and i don't want ten years from now to wonder, to keep wondering.
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so what's been on your mind? >> the opportunity that i'm getting right now to meet mario and aldo. it's been heavy -- it's been heavy on my heart because i've been wanting to say something for a long time, and i felt like i was being silent for so long. i still live with that guilt in my heart. >> have you given any thought to what it will be like the first time when you walk into the room? >> i'm going to be nervous. i'm not going to lie to you. i have a little cousin that i look at like my little brother. he looked up to me a lot. he still do. i mean, i love him and i just try to tell him to stay on the right path because one bad choice can alter your whole life. >> what do you think this will mean to him? >> it's going to mean a lot to him. i hope he can see the man i am today. i'm just nervous.
i'm just -- i'm nervous all around the board. >> everyone i worked with has thought about backing out of this at some point. >> i'm not backing out of anything. once i commit, i'm all in for it, and this is something that needs to be done. >> yeah. >> appreciate getting a little bit of time with you. >> sure. >> i know you're working hard getting ready. this whole thing actually started in indiana, this whole idea of dialogues and restorative justice. >> yeah, the epicenter in the late '70s was elk heart, indiana. howard zaire, a lot of people refer to as the grandfather of restorative justice who brought these ideas. >> what is restorative justice? >> i think restorative justice empowers the people who are most affected by crime to come together and heal in ways that we didn't know before. it can reduce post-traumatic stress symptoms. i think it's an approach to
justice that's focused on repair and accountability, not just on punishment. >> don't you think that somebody who does something horrific like this, shooting somebody over money, needs to be punished? >> it's one thing to sit in front of a judge or sit in front of a prosecutor, go to prison, get arrested, it's one thing to go through that type of accountability, formal part. i think it's an entirely different thing to come to terms with what you've done, to take ownership of that and to see the pain you've caused to other people. to me this is true accountability. this is facing the harm that you've caused to another person. this isn't facing the state of indiana. this is facing mario and aldo. >> think about it, though, how do you think you're going to feel when he first walks in? sometimes i feel, like, disgust, disgusted at it all.
>> i don't expect -- i thought i'd be all right, but, man, i know when i see him i'm going to get mad. >> it's not real until they sit down in that circle tomorrow. it is not an easy thing to do. this is why so many offenders i work with think about backing out of this process. they know how hard it's going to be, to face what they've actually done to the people they've actually hurt. ♪ >> he has no way of knowing the anguish that i've felt for ten years. that my kids won't know my father the way i knew my father. >> i think mario and aldo perceive me as a monster. i'm nervous. it's been ten years. i don't know how they're going
to feel when they see me for the first time. >> what i would give to hear my father sing again. dominique has no way of knowing that. i want him to know. >> if someone was really sorry, they wouldn't have went the next week and did the same thing over until they got caught. that upsets me. that's what makes me mad. >> i'm not the same person that i was when i was 16 years old. i know what i did was wrong, but if he didn't have that gun, nobody would have died. nobody. is bud light orange coming back this summer?
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welcome, everybody. i want to start by introducing who is here. this is dominique. mario, aldo and stephanie, aldo's girlfriend. this meeting we'll focus on an incident which happened june 30th, 2008. we want to explore in what way people have been affected and hopefully work toward healing. dominique, i must say to you that you do not have to participate in this meeting. you're free to leave at any time, as is everyone else. does everybody understand that? okay. can you talk about when you heard the news, what was your reaction? >> i was at home with my son, got a phone call telling me dad's no longer with us. and what was hard about it was that i had to tell my son.
it was bad enough that i'm trying to process everything, but now i got to figure out what to say to my boy. when i told him something bad's happened, grandpa's -- grandpa's dead, and i remember him getting up, coming over and hugging me, trying to take care of me. sometimes i feel haunted by some of those moments that i shouldn't have had, shouldn't have had it. >> what's been the hardest thing for you, mario? >> i feel -- i probably say the hardest thing is the effect on other people.
everybody, my nieces, nephew, my sister, my other brother, his friends, you know, i lost my father but, you know, the world lost the greatest guy i knew. i mean, the only thing that really gets me through it was just, you know, my faith in god. >> dominique, is there anything you'd like to say at this time? >> i just want to tell y'all thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak. it was never my intentions that night, if whatsoever to kill your father. i was just scared because i seen the gun pointed at me. i don't know, i just panicked. in a state of shock because i didn't know if he could shot me. he didn't have to say anything. he could have just did it. he said, hey, and i was scared.
and i'm deeply sorry for that. >> what is it that he said? he said "hey?" that's what he said? did he say anything else? >> he just said "hey," and all i seen was him standing with a gun pointed at me. >> how many shots did you fire? >> i shot -- i shot him -- if i remember, i shot him once. >> i know -- i know how many shots he got hit with, but did you fire all of your shots? >> i can't remember. >> you don't remember? >> no, sir. >> when you got the firearm, how'd you -- where did you get it? >> i bought it off somebody off the street. i wasn't planning on using it. >> was there any gang? >> no, i was never in no part of a gang. none of that whatsoever. >> agang h gang had nothing to h it? >> no, sir. >> it was just you? >> it was just me. i knew you guys would have questions.
that's why i took this opportunity because i would have questions, like what really happened that night? >> you know, when something like this happens to a person, i mean it just callouss you. i'm not going to lie to you. i'm on a roller coaster. some days i'm mad. some days i'm sad. a lot of times my emotions are up and down. >> it's important that you're a different man than you were ten years ago. it's important to me. otherwise, dad is gone, and you're gone, and my family is left broken. >> i really hope you understand what you did was wrong.
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and the quote when i got sentenced, it stuck with me tough. when you got on the stand, you said, you was a coward. you did a cowardly act. you said, i forgive you for that. i took that with me. when, mario, you got on the stand, and you had told me, i hope you'll go in there and change and be a better person and help someone, and that stuck with me. when i got here, i wrote y'all words down on a piece of paper and kept them with me. and to this day, i still have that piece of paper. i kept it the whole ten years since i've been here. every year, i don't miss a beat. i look at it and read it and apply it to me, doing what you ask of me. >> so what are you doing now? >> i'm working. i just recently completed my apprenticeship. >> apprenticeship in what? >> electrical, mechanical
engineer assembler. it's a good trade for me to have to go into the outside world. >> tell me about some of the certificates you got. >> well, i completed my ged when i got here. i did the plus program. it's basically a faith-based program on life skills, but it taught me a lot in that program. you grow as a person. i took my freedom for granted and it bothers me each and every day that i'm in here, but it made me a better person. along the way, i still have problems. we all got problems, but my problems, i learned how to work with them. i've been learning more to be held accountable for all my actions. >> what we want is for dad's memory not to just fade away. i want you to have hope. you're with people who are in dark spots. you can be the light for them,
and now dad's memory lives through you. it's not just over when he died on that parking lot. >> every year on june 30th, i take that moment at that time and pray for your family. people lost their friend, mentor, or brother, whoever he may be to those. i'm very remorseful, and i'm deeply sorry about this whole situation because it was never my intentions to kill anybody. i was just being selfish and greedy. i wanted something that i should have worked hard for, and i had a chance to. >> i could sit here and hate you all day long, okay? one, it takes way too much energy. i don't want to invest that much energy and hate. we got enough hate in the world right now, man. i mean we need -- we need to stop. >> we hate what happened.
i don't want you to think we hate you. and i'm proud of what you're starting to do. >> thank you. thank you. >> i'm glad that you're taking the opportunity to be a better person. i feel in my heart that you are remorsef remorseful, and we all make mistakes. >> hope heals everything. you get to write the last chapter for my dad. >> dominick, is there anything yu you'd like to say at this time? >> this is a blessing. this is god's work, and i'm so, so deeply sorry for what happened to mr. gonzalez. i know i can't bring him back or anything whatsoever, but i can
hold his memory to my heart for the rest of my life. >> thank you all for your contributions. >> dominick, is it cool to shake your hand? >> thank you all. i appreciate it. thank you so much. thank you for this opportunity. thank you, sir. >> just remember, god loves you, man. he does, okay? >> yes, sir. >> all right. >> there's no way to prepare for something like this. you got two brothers with different perspectives. you've got dominique super nervous on the front end. dominique sat down. there was an x ray into his soul, and he was composed. he was remorseful. and that gave tremendous relief to both brothers.
>> i feel a lot better. i do. it strengthens me to know that there is good. i'm glad this happened. so you want to sing kumbaya or what? >> if i could remember the words. dominique is going to have something else to write down on that piece of paper he keeps in his room, which is hope heals everything. if he can stick with that, he's going to keep moving forward.